The Campaign Spot

Thompson’s Righty Media Strategy: Sharing the Base’s ‘Contempt’ for the MSM

If it’s Monday morning, it means I’m talking to one of the Thompson Associates, who offers his thoughts on Jay Cost’s contention that Fred Thompson is running against the mainstream/drive-by media and its expectations as much as his rivals.

The Thompson Associate said that he and others close to Thompson had studied the campaign of McCain in 2000, and began to wonder if glowing profiles from the mainstream media, and the traditional definition of ‘good press coverage’ no longer applied in Republican primaries.

“What happens if you start from the assumption that the conservative base has no respect at all, and in fact has contempt for, the  people that McCain spent all his time cultivating in 2000?” the Thompson Associate asked. “If you start from that supposition, the way you approach media changes dramatically.”

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“There are a comparatively small pool of people who vote in the primaries, and you need to cultivate them before you worry about the New York Times or Washington Post, and that’s what Fred did,” the associate continued. “He spent his time posting on NRO before he did anything else, and it’s just carried over. If he had his choice between doing radio show in Iowa or doing an interview with the Times, he’ll do the radio show.”

Of course, this strategy has a cost, as the mainstream media still is read or watched by at least some Republican primary voters. “You see that with L.A Times – the campaign’s been burned a couple of times. But I don’t see him pulling away from that too much…  They’re going to come back and bite you in the ***… They’re the New York Times, they want their pound of flesh.”

“We did things a little differently out of necessity, and because we understood what the base required, in terms of building a relationship with a candidate. In that 2000 race, [McCain] was a phenomenon of the guys who rode on the bus with him. In a different setup, maybe something like that would have worked for  Fred, but that wasn’t the hand he had been dealt.”

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